March 16, 2012

Potential candidates for next CMU basketball coach

With news of Ernie Ziegler's release from Central Michigan, the Chippewas are now in the market for a men's basketball coach. While many fans gravitate towards the years of Ben Kelso, Dan Majerle and Chris Kaman, the overall body of work for the program at CMU is less than flattering. The Chippewas have had just four winning seasons since 1980 and have not made the NCAA tournament since 2003. While Zeigler failed to get CMU above .500 in any of his six seasons, he took over a program that was a paltry 4-24 a year before he arrived. While the cupboard will not be full for the new coach, especially with the rumored transfers Trey Zeigler, Austin McBroom and Austin Keel, it will not be devoid of talent.

With that in mind, we take a look at several coaching candidates to replace Zeigler at CMU.

Steve Schmidt: Head coach Mott Community College

-Since taking over Mott C.C. in 1991, Schmidt has posted a record of 537-12, won three NJCAA National Championships, and never posted a losing season. He is a 1987 CMU alum and has consistently done two things: win and recruit great players. Among the players who have traveled through Mott have been Doug Anderson (Detroit), Torrian Ogelsby (Bowling Green), Rashi Johnson (Michigan State), Jeremie Simmons (Ohio State), Terrence Robinson (Mississippi) and Lamar Rice (Clemson). It also doesn't hurt Schmidt's chances that current Mott guard John Taylor is one of the nation's top JUCO players and is still uncommitted. He was given a strong look in 2006, and it's hard to find a negative if Schmidt becomes the Chippewas next head coach.

Dane Fife: Assistant coach at Michigan State

-Fife will draw considerable attention for many reasons. After a stint as an assistant at Indiana, Fife took over as the head coach at IPFW at the age of 25 and guided the program through its beginning stages of Division 1 status. While he posted an 82-97 overall record at IPFW, it's a misleading stat due to the programs roundabout path to Division 1 status. The team continually improved and posted their first winning season as a D1 in 2009-10. He left the program to become an assistant under Tom Izzo in 2011-12. Fife is also a Michigan native, having been a star player at Clarkston (Mich.) before continuing his career at Indiana under Bob Knight.

Cornell Mann: Assistant coach at Iowa State

-A current assistant coach for the Cyclones, Mann was previously an assistant at Dayton and Western Michigan. Mann was also an assistant at CMU for two years, including the 2003 season when the Chippewas last reached the NCAA tournament. He has numerous ties to the state of Michigan in recruiting, dating back to his days as head coach at Oak Park (Mich.) and the Michigan Mustangs AAU program.

Doug Wojcik: Former head coach at Tulsa

-Wojcik posted a record of 140-92 at Tulsa and had put together six straight winning season prior to the 2011-12 campaign, but he was fired after the team's 17-14 record as the administration sought a change. A former assistant at Michigan State, North Carolina and Notre Dame, Wojcik also ironically holds the record for most career wins at Tulsa after his sever year stint as head coach. He was a former player at Navy during the David Robinson era. His firing from Tulsa is one of the more perplexing decisions in the college basketball coaching carousel, especially considering Wojcik had won 20+ games in four of the seven seasons he was head coach.

Bruce Weber: Former head coach at Illinois

-If there was a long shot considered for the CMU vacancy, Weber would fit the bill. He was recently fired from his head coaching position at Illinois after a tumultuous season that saw the Illini finish 9th in the Big Ten with a 17-15 record. Despite that, Weber has an overall coaching record of 210-101 and has led his team to the postseason in 10 of the 14 seasons he has spent as a head coach, both at Illinois and Southern Illinois. In 2004-05 Weber led Illinois to the NCAA Championship game where they lost to North Carolina. He will certainly have a long list of suitors for his services, but if he desires to stay in the Midwest, CMU is an option. It is worth repeating however, that Weber is a long shot.

Bacari Alexander: Assistant coach at Michigan

-Alexander is an enticing name due to his Michigan ties, notably his involvement in the greater Detroit region. He was a former player and coach at Detroit and has MAC ties after assistant coaching stints at Western Michigan and Ohio. He is considered Michigan's top recruiter, a gifted motivational speaker, and has also drawn considerable praise for his fashionable attire on the sideline (multiple best dressed assistant awards). Alexander relates to the current recruit, and has had considerable success as an assistant at Michigan.

Other Potential Candidates

Bill Sall - Head coach at Ferris State

Jim Boylen - Assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers

Ric Wesley - Head coach at Grand Valley State

Bob Simon - Assistant coach at Providence College

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